Sunday , Oct , 04 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Will Tyson Chandler, Ray Felton, Gerald Wallace and Charlotte finally make the playoffs in 2010?

Owner Bob Johnson, with his penny-pinching style, has never put the resources or time into developing a credible organization. Doing things on the cheap and absenteeism from the top have always been the norm. This summer, his approach, driven by an intense desire to sell the Bobcats, had a particularly damaging impact on the organization …


Will Tyson Chandler, Ray Felton, Gerald Wallace and Charlotte finally make the playoffs in 2010?Every day until the regular season begins, HoopsVibe the Blog will ask and answer an important question facing each of the NBA’s thirty teams. Weigh-in with thoughts on our Key Questions feature in the comment box below.

Today’s team:
Charlotte Bobcats.

Key Question: After last season’s relative success, has management done enough to help the Bobcats qualify for their first-ever post-season? 

The Quick Answer:
No.

An uncommitted owner has killed the momentum Charlotte built after last season’s valiant, but unsuccessful push for a playoff spot.

Owner Bob Johnson, with his penny-pinching style, has never put the resources or time into developing a credible organization. Doing things on the cheap and absenteeism from the top have always been the norm.

This summer, his approach, driven by an intense desire to sell the Bobcats, had a particularly damaging impact on the organization.

Rewind to last spring. After a season of transition and mostly hard knocks, this young Charlotte squad rallied to challenge for the final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. In the end, they failed. Yet, much was gained playing meaningful basketball.

For instance, Gerald Wallace emerged as a tough leader. Boris Diaw stopped resembling a French cream puff and started resembling the guy who once won the Most Improved Player award with Phoenix, while D.J. Augustin, Raja Bell, Ray Felton and Emeka Okafor took a step forward as a group. 

Some personnel tweaks, a season together, and more of Larry ‘Play the Right Way’ Brown’s teachings should have put the Bobcats squarely in the race for the 2010 playoffs.

Well, it was a nice thought.

The East got better. A lot better, in fact. The top squads -Boston, Cleveland, and Orlando- were involved in a summer arms race that put some significant distance between them and the rest of the Eastern Conference.

The middle-class also got ‘theirs‘. Atlanta, Toronto, and Washington had solid summers and, along with Miami, have eyes for the fourth seed. And Detroit seem poised to move forward after a sub par 2009. Expect Chicago and Philadelphia to be in the hunt for a post-season birth, too.

That’s ten teams fighting for the Eastern Conference’s eight playoff spots, which likely puts Charlotte on the golf course when the all-important ‘second season’ begins in April. Here’s why:

On paper, the team improved by swapping the methodical Emeka Okafor for the athletic Tyson Chandler. However, Chandler’s health, he has missed 82 games over the last two years, and contract, his deal expires in July, are reason for concern.

The rest of the roster isn’t stable. Ray Felton will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end after taking Charlotte’s one-year qualifying offer. More recently, Bell and Diaw have been linked to trade rumors.

These distractions aren’t good for any team, especially one as young as the Bobcats.

Prediction: 9th in the Eastern Conference.

Sound off: Where will Charlotte finish in 2010? Will they make playoffs? Why? Why not? Read Oly’s ‘Key Questions’ feature in his HoopsVibe archive and follow him on Twitter. Photo courtesy of FLC.